FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU Women’s Soccer team, fresh off a fourth-consecutive Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship, has announced a challenging 2014 schedule that features matches against teams from the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, A-10, C-USA and American to name a few - including five teams that participated in the 2013 NCAA Tournament as the program looks to build upon its record-breaking 2013 campaign.
The Eagles finished 2013 with the No. 67 RPI in the nation and the 2014 schedule will feature seven teams that finished ranked inside the top 83, three of which were ranked 15th or better. Those seven team include Arizona (83), Miami (73), La Salle (63), USF (53), Texas A&M (15), South Carolina (14) and UCF (13).
FGCU concluded the 2013 season with a 13-3-4 record and a 7-0-2 mark in the A-Sun before falling in penalty kicks in the A-Sun Championship game after battling Jacksonville for 110 minutes to a scoreless tie. The numbers last year would suggest that it was the greatest season offensively in FGCU women’s soccer history. The Eagles set program single-season records in points (130), goals (43), shots (384), shots per game (19.20), shots on goal (180) and shots on goal per game (9.00). FGCU returns 84.6 percent of its scoring (110 of 130 points) for the 2014 campaign.
“We are excited about the opportunity we have this season,” head coach Jim Blankenship added. “We look forward to our ladies getting to play against some of the nation’s top programs.”
The 2014 schedule kicks off with an exhibition at the FGCU Soccer Complex opposite Eastern Florida State at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Just ten days later, the regular season begins with a match against in-state rival UCF out of the American Athletic Conference. UCF won its conference tournament last season after posting a 16-3-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where it fell in the opening round to St. John’s. The Eagles are 0-3-1 all-time opposite the Knights and went down by a score of 4-0 on the road last season.
The Eagles will then welcome Pac-12 foe Arizona who visits southwest Florida for the first time in program history Aug. 24. The Wildcats finished the 2013 season a 9-7-4 record, their first winning season since 2005. To conclude 2013, the Cats shutout in-state rival Arizona State, 2-0, to add to their six shutout games on the season. Among the Pac-12 teams, the Wildcats ended the season ranked No. 2 in goals with 38 and No. 4 in shots with 328 total.
FGCU hits the road for the first time in 2014 with a trip to Coral Gables, Fla. for a date with the Miami Hurricanes on Aug. 29. Miami closed last season with a 9-8-1 record and did not qualify for the ACC Tournament. These two programs have met three times; most recently in 2011 and FGCU has yet to claim a result.
From Miami the Eagles will travel to Tampa, Fla. to square off with USF for the first time in the regular season on Aug. 31. These two programs have met several times in exhibition fashion but never in the regular season. The Bulls closed out 2013 with a 10-4-7 record and a double-overtime, penalty kick loss to UCF in the semifinals of the American Conference Tournament.
The Green and Blue will conclude a three-game road swing with a visit to Florida International for a Sept. 3 tilt. The Eagles hold a 4-2-1 advantage in the all-time series including a 1-0 victory at the FGCU Soccer Complex last season - giving FGCU a three-game win streak in the series. FIU finished 2013 with a 7-12 record and a 5-5 mark in Conference USA.
Murray State visits the FGCU Soccer Complex on Sept. 7 to split the five road games for FGCU. These two programs have met once before in 2007 and the Racers came away with a 3-2 victory. Murray State closed 2013 with a 6-10-1 mark and a 3-7 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.
FGCU will visit Texas A&M in College Station, Texas on Sept. 11. Texas A&M finished the 2013 season with a 18-5-2 record and 9-2 mark in the SEC before going on to win the SEC Championship. The Aggies advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament and lost to No. 5 North Carolina 2-0. Texas A&M finished the season ranked No. 8 in the nation in the NSCAA Coaches Poll. It will be the first meeting between these two programs.
The Eagles will then return to Tampa, Fla. to square off with South Carolina on a neutral field Sept. 14. The game will take place at USF and will be the first meeting between the two programs. The Gamecocks were 17-4-2 overall last season advanced out of the SEC to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large selection where they would defeat Furman, 5-0 before falling to Stanford, 1-0 in overtime. South Carolina finished the season ranked No. 15 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.
After the long road trip, FGCU returns home Sept. 19 to welcome the Terriers of Wofford College for the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Terriers were 8-5-6 last season and posted a 4-2-4 mark in the SoCon. Two days later, FGCU welcomes CSU Bakersfield all the way from California for a 1 p.m. kick off. The Roadrunners were 4-14-1 last season with a 3-8-1 record in the WAC.
The Eagles hit the road once again, this time for four-straight beginning with a trip to Jacksonville, Fla. for a date with North Florida, Sept. 26, to begin the defense of their A-Sun regular season title. FGCU downed the Ospreys 3-0 at the FGCU Soccer Complex last season and hold a 5-1-1 all-time series lead.
From Jacksonville the Eagles will fly north to Philadelphia to take on the Explorers of La Salle on Sept. 28. La Salle was 15-5-3 last season and 5-2-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Explorers won their second-consecutive A-10 title on penalty kicks over Dayton, advancing to the NCAA Tournament where they fell to Georgetown, 2-0. It will be FGCU’s first meeting with La Salle.
The Eagles will continue A-Sun play at USC Upstate on Oct. 3. FGCU took down the Spartans at home last season on senior day by a score of 7-0. Upstate would fail to reach the A-Sun Tournament after posting a 1-7-1 mark in A-Sun play and a 4-11-3 record overall. From there FGCU heads to Kennesaw State on Oct. 5. The Eagles battled KSU to a scoreless tie on the road last season and the Owls finished 2014 with a 9-9-1 overall record and a 5-3-1 mark in the A-Sun.
FGCU will look forward to five-straight at home to close the 2014 regular season beginning with Northern Kentucky on Friday, Oct. 10. NKU was 6-10-2 last season but have yet to score a goal against FGCU. The Eagles are 2-0 all-time against the Norse and have outscored them 8-0. Lipscomb will visit the FGCU Soccer Complex next on Oct. 12. The Bisons were one of FGCU’s two ties in A-Sun play last season, both of which came on the road. The Eagles have never lost to Lipscomb.
In a rematch of the 2013 A-Sun Championship game, Jacksonville returns to the FGCU Soccer Complex as the defending A-Sun Tournament Champions on Oct. 18. The Eagles peppered JU with 30 shots in the A-Sun title game but came away with a scoreless tie before falling in penalty kicks. The Dolphins are the only A-Sun program that FGCU does not have a winning record against (2-2-5).
Palm Beach Atlantic stops in on Oct. 22 before FGCU concludes the regular season by welcoming Stetson on Oct. 25. Holding a 6-1 advantage in the all-time series, FGCU has not lost to the Hatters since the 2007 season and defeated SU last season on the road 4-0.
Follow the FGCU women’s soccer team all season long at FGCUAtletics.com, on Twitter @FGCU_WSoccer and on Facebook by liking the FGCU Women’s Soccer page.